Have you seen a crucial block lately? We're not talking about football, we're talking about blocking as it relates to safety and your work area. We're talking about blocking important elements of the workplace from access.
One of the most common things you can see during a safety inspection are blocking violations if you know exactly what to look for. What types of things should not be blocked? Below is a partial list of common items in most workplaces, however, there can certainly be others:
- Emergency Exits
- Eyewash stations and showers
- Electrical panels
- Electrical disconnects
- Fire extinguishers
- Pedestrians aisles
How serious is this issue? Locked and blocked exits were factors in the deaths of 25 and injury of 53 in a 1991 North Carolina fire that resulted in the owner of the company going to prison.
The good news is that blocking is easy to identify and fix. Consider painting zones around these areas and installing signs to inform people they can't be blocked. Regular inspections and emphasis on blocking is the most important element to preventing such issues. Specifically look for items that "have always been there" as these permanently blocked items need to be addressed.
Even OSHA or other regulatory agencies have rules on blocking such items. They are important and access to these things can be critical in a time of emergency.
Take a look around your work area today when you head out. See if there is clear access to the electrical panels and fire extinguishers. Let us know if something is blocking access. Look to see if any items have been "permanently" blocked by design.
It is certainly better to go 10 ft further for a fire extinguisher than it is to have to move carts, racks or other items just to get to it during an emergency.